Pitcher Mussina headlines Orioles Hall of Fame class


SARASOTA, Fla. -- Roughly a dozen years after he fled the Orioles for the greener pastures of the rival New York Yankees, leaving behind a bitter fan base and a franchise that hasn't been competitive since, Mike Mussina will return to Baltimore this summer to be inducted into the club's Hall of Fame.

The Orioles announced Wednesday that Mussina, who pitched 10 of his 18 big league seasons with the club, and former infielder Rich Dauer, whose entire 10-year career was spent in Baltimore, will be inducted into their Hall during an on-field ceremony Saturday, Aug. 25, at Camden Yards.

“This is a tremendous honor to be considered with the players that have played in Baltimore, that have worn the Orioles uniform, that have accomplished the things that have been accomplished there,” said Mussina, the third-winningest pitcher in club history. “To be put into the same sentence with Cal [Ripken] and [Jim] Palmer and guys of that caliber, it's a tremendous honor and I am very thankful for it.”

Mussina, who retired in 2008 and is not yet eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was selected by a committee, which included the volunteer Orioles Advocates fan group as well as club personnel, existing Orioles Hall of Famers and select members of the media. Dauer, an integral part of the club's World Series teams in 1979 and 1983, was selected by the veteran's committee panel.

The Orioles also announced that longtime scout and Maryland baseball pioneer Walter Youse will be honored posthumously at the Aug. 25 ceremony. Youse is this year's recipient of the Herb Armstrong Award, which recognizes the achievements and contributions of non-uniform personnel.

Mussina, the club's first-round pick (20th overall) in the 1990 amateur draft out of Stanford, spent 10 years in an Orioles uniform. Six times he won at least 15 games for the Orioles and is third all time on the organization's win list with 147 victories.

His winning percentage of .645 is second for Orioles pitchers with at least 50 decisions, and he also ranks in the top six in strikeouts, games started and innings pitched for the organization.

“He was the best pitcher I ever played behind. Most consistent, most reliable and most dominating,” said former Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson, who is also in the club's Hall of Fame. “Here was a guy that if he had [an] 87 mph [fastball], he'd find a way to win. He had six, seven pitches. And if he had a 94 [mph fastball], you were thinking he might throw a no-hitter that day, which he flirted with several times.

“Great teammate, great competitor,” Anderson added. “He's an actual Hall of Famer, not just an Oriole Hall of Famer.”

As an Oriole, Mussina made the All-Star team five times and won four Gold Gloves. A fan favorite, Mussina left Baltimore in the 2000 offseason to sign a six-year, $88.5 million deal with the Yankees — a decision he heard about each time he pitched in front of the Camden Yards crowd thereafter.

“Looking back on it, I can understand people being upset and disappointed and frustrated and bitter, especially when you leave Baltimore and go to a rival city in the same division,” Mussina said Wednesday. “And I can understand that. It was a decision I made at the time and it probably worked out for me, but the first 10 years in Baltimore are tough to replace, in a sense.”

His stellar career continued with the Yankees, for whom he won 123 games and appeared in one World Series. Overall, Mussina, now 43, posted a 270-153 record and a 3.68 ERA. He said he considers himself both an Oriole and a Yankee.

“To start in one place and have one organization give you a chance to show what you think you can do and go out there and let you do it for that long of a period of time, and then have to leave and go someplace else and have another organization treat you like you have been there your whole career, you have to give both sides a lot of credit,” he said. “I can't say that I am one or the other. I have to say I am both.”

Dauer, who was a first-round pick of the club's (24th overall) in 1974 out of Southern California, played all 10 seasons in his career with the Orioles from 1976 to 1985. A career .257 hitter, he was the club's starting second baseman for two World Series and was considered one of the scrappy, unheralded leaders of a supremely talented team.

“I'm just very happy,” he said about his election to the Orioles' Hall. “To be a part of that, especially with a lot of my teammates, that's really special to me. I certainly didn't think I should be in it or anything like that. I certainly would love to be in it.”

Dauer, 59, has remained in baseball after his playing days. He is the third base coach for the Colorado Rockies — and gives credit to his original organization for building the foundation that would keep him in the game for so long.

“It's part of my family, part of where I am today. I am very fortunate that I carried on in baseball, and I am real proud, obviously, to be considered in this class of Baltimore Orioles,” he said. “It was one of the best organizations in baseball, and I am assuming one of these days it will get back to being that.”


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